CanCell Annual Retreat 2020
The 15th and 16th October we arranged our CanCell Annual retreat which is two days filled with seminars and exciting scientific speaks. As for everyone else this year was different due to the coronavirus pandemic and there were a lot of safety measures to consider when hosting the retreat. For instance, we could not have as many attending that we had before. This had some implications for us when we had invited several key speakers from around the globe to teach us about their field of cancer research. Fortunately, we had our solution right within reach; I am talking about ZOOM! We were able to host most of the retreat on Zoom so everyone that wanted could join us online.
Flash talk winners: Aruna, Amani and Simona.
Covid-19 did not stop these experts in their field
A tradition at out CanCell Annual retreat is that we invite cancer scientists which are experts in their field to host a keynote talk and enlighten us about the newest cancer research. There is something special about being lucky enough to have so skilled persons lecturing us in person at our retreat and being able to chat with them during the lunch about their science. That was also the plan when we sent out the invitations to this year’s retreat at a time where there was no COVID-19. You already know how the story goes and science is as much about adapting as about understanding. The retreat was a success despite the challenges with COVID-19 and social distancing. We had two days with a lot of interesting talks performed by highly skilled key speakers which all are experts in their field, and you can read more about below.
First out were Eyal Gottlieb which is a highly cited professor and whose research focuses on the metabolic control of tumorigenesis. In short he focuses on disease-causing changes in cell metabolism that dictates the fate of a cancer cell. Besides that he is also one of the founders of Metabomed, a private company which works in the field of cancer metabolism to discover new cancer drugs and thereby new treatments. Gottlieb gave us a thorough and exciting lecture about metabolism in cancer cells and possible therapeutic targets.
From Finland we had Johanna Ivaska whose research spans over several fields from integrins and mechano-transduction in cancer. Her lab is working to understand how integrins contributes to cancer in almost every step of cancer progression. By doing this they hope to find new regulators of integrin and cellular traffic. At the retreat she lectured us about her project on endosomal trafficking in breast cancer progression and drug resistance. Ivaska’s research focuses on integrins, matrix, motility and mechano-transduction in cancer. In addition to leading her lab she is a Scientific Advisory Board member here at CanCell.
Finally, all the way from USA we have Jaynata Debnath which have centred his research around autophagy and how this process regulates several steps in carcinoma progression. His main focuses are on both epithelial cell fate and oncogenic transformation. Debnath has previously received the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation. At our annual retreat he gave an exciting lecture about autophagy and secretion in cancer.
We are thankful that these talented professors and scientist wanted to take some of their time to explain their research for us, especially in these challenging times with Covid-19. We look forward to seeing more of their future work and achievements.
At the second day of our retreat project leaders and associated members of CanCell held a speech about their projects:
Arnoldo Frigessi who is the leader of two labs focusing on biostatistics talked us through his project “Math stats modelling breast cancer therapy” and how statistics and math models can help improve both the understanding of cancer and help us to choose the right treatment. From statistics and directly to drug resistance in a highly aggressive and lethal cancer type, gastrointestinal tumours Leonardo Meza-Zepeda explained his project “Dissecting drug resistance in gastrointestinal stromal tumours” to us and which mechanisms that leads to this. Understanding the mechanisms better will help researchers to develop new and better treatments in the future. Going from resistance straight into the cell signature of Liposarcoma a rare but aggressive form of cancer in the fat cells, Marie Rogne talked about her project “Deciphering the Liposarcoma cell signature by integrated Single-Cell Sequencing analysis”. By using Single-Cell sequencing to better understand the disease it will be possible to develop better treatments in the future.
CanCell Equality forum striving towards a more equal scientific world for all
CanCell Equality forum is a forum which focuses on integration, gender equality and minorities. The forum consists of Professor Harald Stenmark, Ragnhild Eskeland, Chara Charsou and Ashish Jain. Harald Stenmark is the leader and founder of Centre for Cancer Cell Reprogramming (CanCell) and leader of the Stenmark lab. Ragnhild Eskeland is an associate professor and leader of the chromatin biology group. Chara Charsou works as a postdoctoral fellow specializing in autophagy at the Autophagy lab. Ashish Jain is a postdoctoral Fellow at CanCell. The CanCell Equality forum aim to promote youth leadership in CanCell and academia regardless of background and it was a prerequisite that they are represented at our annual retreat. Chara Charsou explained to us about gender equality and gender inequality at the workplace and about the guidelines we have here at CanCell to ensure equality regardless of gender and background.
Flash talks – All winners
Imagine that you are working on a research project and are travelling by bus to your lab. Then a person which you know is known for sponsoring other projects sit down next to you and recognize you from previous projects. You have 3 minutes to present your project before the bus trip ends. It sounds stressing right? To be able to present your science in an understandable and concise way is useful and therefore we hosted the Flash Talk award. We congratulate our three winners Amani Al Outa, Aruna Abraham and Simona Migliano which all was awarded the prize for the best flash talks.
You cannot have an annual retreat without some prizes and awards. Below you can see some of the awards that were given during the retreat:
Communicator of The Year – Viola Lobert
Paper awards – Shared victories:
Nina Marie Pedersen (Journal of Cell Biology 2020).
Marina Vietri (Nature Cell Biology, 2020).
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